My husband and I booked our own air and flew from CA to Ft. Lauderdale. We stayed overnight at the Amerisuites on 17th street. This is an excellent location as the Outback Steak House and a good Mexican Resturant are just across the parking lot. The hotel provides a free shuttle from Airport to Hotel, and Hotel to the pier. Around 10:45 we hopped on the shuttle to take us to the beautiful Zuiderdam.
Be sure to go to the middle of the terminal not the two ends. The sign in front said they would open at 11:30 however, they opened the doors at 11:10 and we paraded in. At the dock/reception area we were ECTASTIC to find out we had been upgraded from a category AA to a category S full suite room 6084 next to the glass elevators mid ship. Perfect location. We had originally booked a BB balcony, then 5 days before sail we got bumped up to the AA, then finally the suite. I give all the credit to my FABULOUS TA, that pushed the cruise lines every single day to get us upgraded as far as possible. This guy is has the worlds best customer service, & competitive pricing. Please send me an e-mail @ email@example.com for his contact info if interested.
We dined the 1st night in the Odessey/Pinnacle since it is a 2 for 1 on the 1st night. Call HAL and book your reservation before you get on the ship. We thought the food was worth $10 each but not worth $20 p/p + tip. Food in the Lido and regular dining room is very good. My husband especially loved the hot soups, and I enjoyed the cold ones. The cheesecake is heavenly.
Service was excellent and the crew aimed to please. Nice!
Key West - We walked around the corner from the dock and saw the sign for the Conch Train. Cost $22 each for 1.5 hours. It is great, and they show you the whole island. The ship charges $24 p/p.
Cozumel: We grabbed a taxi with another fun couple we met and headed for Chaakanub (spelling ?) park. $10 per taxi NOT P/P + tip. Chaakanub is a beautiful park. It is $12 p/p to get in. Rental of mask, snorkel and fins was a total of $6 p/p. The snorkeling is excellent. We lounged in the chairs under the grass huts. Paradise. Everything is sparkeling clean, and there are no beggars. Including cab, park entrance fee, snorkel equipment we paid $20.50 each. Ship charges $49 p/p.
Grand Cayman: I pre-booked a trip to Stingray City, and Coral Reefs through NativeWays Sports. Their rep Sharon Eubanks met us in the North Terminal which is where the tenders dock. Great lady. Since we had a later excursion she kindly offered to take us to 7 mile beach, then picked us up later. We went to the dock where we boarded a small boat, and had refreshments. Richard & Michael the 2 crewman were excellent. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Nativeways. Cost was $30 p/p for stingray city and 2 snorkel sites, for 2.5 hours. Ship charges $49 for Stingray City alone.
Half Moon Cay: Very pretty island. It was super windy when we were there. We got a clamshell which I would recommend if you are pasty white, or don't want to get too much sun. The snorkeling from the beach is NOT GOOD, so if you want to snorkel take the boat trip. We had a delicous barbeque there.
Cruise-Critics: There were about 35 people who I corresponded with via e-mail before the trip. About 20 or so showed up for our get together the day of sail. I want to thank Sandy and Peter from Australia who we pal'd around with and made our trip so much fun.
Bottom line. OUTSTANDING CRUISE, gorgeous ship, great food, excellent service.